Book review: Yarnitecture

YarnitectureI’m often sent books to review, and I find myself thinking ‘nooooo’. Many don’t make it onto Woolwinding; they are either inappropriate or just uninspiring, or maybe they are reinventing a wheel which doesn’t need redevelopment – or maybe they are just dire. But sometimes I open a parcel and find myself doing a little dance round the room. This is one of the latter occasions.

Excuse me. Ahem.

What can I say about this gem by Jillian Moreno? it is a spinning book written, hooray, from a knitter’s perspective. It focuses on spinning ‘a yarn that fulfils a purpose’: one that works its best for whatever knitted project you have in mind.

Once upon a recent time, handspinning was almost an end in itself, and it still can be, of course. Once upon a recent time, it was assumed in books about spinning that the spinners were inevitably dealing exclusively with fleece. Raw fleece. Fleece possibly from their own sheep. And, also of course, some people do work exclusively with fleece (I love it myself, except on days like today when the wind suddenly gets up and blows most of my freshly washed Cheviot x BFL fleece away, possibly taking it as far as England). But many of us are not purists: we buy prepared fibre, maybe hand-dyed, delicious fibre; maybe undyed but fully processed and still delicious fibre. And some people – I know several – actively dislike working with anything else. Very many of us spin fibre in order to knit with it, to produce something unique, something we control from (almost) start to finish. This is our book.

It starts with a basic vision; goes through fibre breeds and the impact choice there can have; explores prep, drafting, plying, working with colour, finishing… and, ta dah, knitting with handspun. It’s beautifully illustrated. And it even has some patterns.

Ok, let’s have a look inside. Take this page: it illustrates the different effects you can get by blending colours at plying or blending those colours before spinning:

colour spinning

It is often good to do things intentionally, instead of accidentally. Intentional, and you can get the same effect again, should you want to do so. Accidental? You might be lucky…

Or take finishing a spun yarn. I almost always whack my finished yarn to set the twist (I find it helpful; I can imagine I am whacking the person at the Fibre Fair who said ‘I could do that, but I wouldn’t want to, it’s so boring’). But what about the alternatives? There’s snapping, swirling it around like a cowboy with a lasso, even fulling it. What difference would a different process make, and what impact would it have on a particular yarn?

finishing

Here four different yarns are compared – merino, corriedale, BFL and silk – after having undergone eight different approaches (menaced, incidentally, doesn’t mean you sitting in front of the yarn like Michael Corleone confronting the men who tried to kill his father; it means felting it deliberately).

And how about ply affecting what you want to knit?

plying

That’s covered at length; above focuses on singles, but there are equally detailed examinations of two- and three-ply yarns. It’s excellent, and the ‘knitting with your handspun’ section is invaluable, covering things like ensuring you will have enough yarn (been there), and simply planning a project from a pattern which specifies a commercial yarn.

Finally, there are twelve patterns. There are two cardigans, a moebius cowl / shawl, four more varied but normally constructed shawls (of which this, by Romi, is one),

pattern

socks, two sweaters, a necklace and a pair of mitts.

I have been waiting for a book like this – thank you, Jill Moreno!

 

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8 thoughts on “Book review: Yarnitecture

    1. kate Post author

      It’s a good one. All sorts of things you don’t really think about most of the time, like grist; I’d never heard of grist as applied to wool, but – to quote Game of Thrones – I know nothing. Sorry about the GoT ref, people have been saying ‘winter is coming’ to me today as the weather is vile, and I think it’s catching. Of course, anyone who doesn’t know GoT just thinks I’m mad.

      Reply
  1. biggardenblog

    [J] Denise got to read this post before me, and was so impressed that she’s ordered the book. This looks to be a refreshing and welcome new approach to spinning books, and both of us look forward to it coming and us diving into it!

    Reply
  2. hebrideanwoolshed

    [D] What an interesting and helpful review, and all the better for being by someone who obviously knows what they are talking about. So excited about this book – I’ve already ordered it and it’s been despatched! Yipee! J’s going to love this too.

    Reply
  3. Alison

    Thank you so much for this! At this point in my spinning life it’s very difficult to find books that don’t tell me things I already know. I’ve been hearing about this one for a while, but was unable to find an In Person copy to flip through. Brief descriptions didn’t tell me how it was different from Sarah Anderson’s book. It’s sounds like there’s enough difference to be worth picking up!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I think it probably is worth it for you – I certainly learned some things I didn’t know already. And if you use prepared fibre, I would have said it was invaluable….

      Reply

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